The success rate of the surgical repair of palatal fistula after palatoplasty is often unsatisfactory. This study is a review of 15 years of single surgeon's experience with the evolution of a reliable surgical technique with high success rate.Methods
This is a retrospective chart review of consecutive cleft cases undergoing repair of palatal fistula from 2000 to 2015. The study included 37 consecutive fistula repair cases with wide elevation and mobilization of the palatal tissues and nasal and oral layer repair. Group 1 (n = 20) were treated earlier in the study using either midline, von Langenbeck, or 2-flap palatoplasty with 3-layer suturing. Group 2 (n = 17) were treated through a Dorrance-type incision and additional repair of the oral periosteum for a total of 4-layer suturing.Results
The overall fistula closure rate was 94.6% (90% in group 1 and 100% in group 2). The difference in outcome between the 2 groups was statistically insignificant (P > 0.05). Most patients (83.8%) had concomitant velar muscle retropositioning for treatment of velopharyngeal incompetence.Conclusions
Fistula repair using wide mobilization of the entire palate through previous repair incisions and multilamellar suturing technique has a very low fistula recurrence rate. Addition of the fourth layer of suturing and the use of a Dorrance-type incision further improves the outcome. This approach provides wide tissue release and access to tissue layers for better repair and tension-free closure. Combining intravelar veloplasty with fistula repair is safe and allows management of the fistula and its possible consequences on palatal function in a single procedure.